Upsets galore at Pictona as Johns and McGuffin, Devidze and Schneemann book finals spots

Upsets galore at Pictona as Johns and McGuffin, Devidze and Schneemann book finals spots

DALLAS, TX - Rain and windy conditions defined the weather in Holly Hill, FL for singles day on Thursday, but upsets defined the on-court action, especially on the men’s side.

The day began with qualifier Spartak Rahachou taking down reigning Nationals silver-medalist Jaume Martinez Vich in a thrilling encounter that featured furious ball striking on both sides.

Relying on his one-handed backhand and heavy topspin serve, Rahachou was ecstatic to get the win against the No. 9 seed.

“Jaume is one of my best friends on tour, and it was a pleasure sharing the court with this tiger,” he said.

Though Rahachou fell to Pablo Tellez in the next round, another upset was brewing courtesy of 18-year-old Gabriel Tardio.

The No. 15 seed ousted second-seeded Federico Staksrud in three games to set up a quarterfinal match with Travis Rettenmaier.

Despite these upsets in the early stages of the draw, experience won out in the semifinals.

Tyson McGuffin stopped Tardio’s run with a confident 11-4, 11-2 display and credited his ball placement as the difference-maker.

“I think depth was the answer today,” he shared. “Depth on the serve, depth on the return, and I was able to punch my fourth ball deep as well to keep the level high.”

Awaiting him in the finals is an opponent he is all too familiar with, Ben Johns, who endured a tough semifinal battle against Connor Garnett.

The No. 1 seed found himself down a game and 1-5, but relied on intentional footwork and effort to turn it around in the second game.

“You can never be lazy in this game,” he explained. “You have to move your feet and bend your knees, so that’s mainly what I focused on in game 2.”

Johns also began using more drops instead of drives to complete the comeback and seal a 9-11, 11-7, 11-2 victory.

The women’s bracket was already somewhat open with Catherine Parenteau not competing, but it really opened up when No. 1 seed Anna Leigh Waters withdrew from competition before her first-round match.

Salome Devidze and Lauren Stratman took advantage, with both dropping only one game before they met in the semifinals.

In a match that saw Stratman jump out to a 7-1 lead in the first game and Devidze go up 8-0 in the second, the Georgian Devidze eventually came out on top 11-8, 11-8.

Devidze credits her success to the training she has done focusing on her net game, which has allowed her to play more aggressively.

“Not only have I trained on the court to come to net more, but I’ve also changed the way I do fitness to accommodate moving side-to-side at the net and staying low,” she mentioned. “If I can come in before my opponent, then I feel really good.”

No. 5 seed Lacy Schneemann awaits Devidze in the final.

In her first three matches Thursday, Schneemann dropped the first game and had to come back. She hit her stride at the right time, though, defeating No. 9 seed Taylor Garcia 11-0, 11-9 in the semis.

Schneemann will be looking to capture her first singles gold medal on the PPA Tour on Championship Sunday.

Pro draw action continues Friday with mixed doubles.